What have they got to hide? Ukrainian X-files
At a press conference held in the UNIAN press agency, the Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group Yevhen Zakharov and legal adviser to “Maidan” Oleksandr Severyn spoke of the illegal practice by public bodies of classifying information.
They stress that neither Independence, nor the Orange Revolution have led the authorities to reject the Soviet practice of unlawfully and / or unwarrantedly concealing information. This has been achieved through the unlawful use of stamps restricting access “Not to be published” and “Not to be printed”, these not actually being allowed for in legislation at all. The stamp “For official use only” is permitted, but is overused, while there are also often refusals to provide information, including that on subjects of public importance.
At the beginning of 2005 KHPG and the “Maidan” Alliance began a campaign aimed at stopping such illegal practices and having unlawfully concealed documents made known to the public.
Yevhen Zakharov reported that since 2006 the President and Cabinet of Ministers have totally stopped using the two unlawful stamps (“Not to be published” and “Not to be printed”), while the Ministry of Justice and Security Service [SBU] have officially declared the practice unlawful.
Oleksandr Severyn added that monitoring had been carried out this year into the use by public authorities of the stamp “For official use only”. The monitoring has involved sending requests to provide lists of items of information classified as confidential to 79 central bodies and 27 regional administrations, as well as to the city administrations of Kyiv and Sevastopol.
The aim is to put together a National Register of Confidential Information held by the State. At the present time only 14 central bodies have shown no wish to cooperate and have not provided answers, as well as one – Zaporizhya – regional administration. In fact these bodies had given even their lists of confidential information the stamp “For official use only”, thus making it impossible for the public to exercise any control over this aspect of their activities. Law suits are planned against the offending authorities.